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Common Nail Injuries in Dogs

At A Glance

Have you spotted blood dripping from your dog's nails?

This article explores the most common nail injuries that dogs get and when you need to be worried.

Last Updated on: Feb 22, 2022

What are some of the common nail injuries in dogs? Why do nails break?

Dogs suffer from severe pain if they injure their nails. Therefore, maintaining your pet’s nail hygiene is essential. While you can’t control all your pet’s activities, you can check on its nails often to ensure that they’re fine.

Some of the red flags include too much licking and bleeding. If not treated promptly, nail injuries pose a risk to the general wellbeing of your pet.

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Owner Looking at Dog's Nails

Why Do Nails Break?

There are several reasons why your dog’s nails break.

Long Nails

Nails that are too long tend to break easily. If your dog has long nails, it can injure them during daily activities and this is usually very painful. Long nails tend to be one of the most common nail injuries in dogs.

Running, which is an everyday activity for your dog, could also lead to it breaking its long nails.

Improper Nutrition

Feeding your dog a balanced diet is essential for it to grow healthily. You must ensure that your dog eats healthy and nutritious food because poor nutrition may lead to a variety of health problems, including brittle nails.  

Nail Bed Tumors

Nail bed tumors affect the inner nail tissue. These tumors cause nail breakage, bleeding, and could also result in limping. If you notice any sign of a nail bed tumor, you should take your dog to a vet before it becomes severe.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections around your dog’s claws make it lick its nails more than usual. Lumps on the paw are also an indication of fungal infection.

In the long run, your pet’s nails start to break. Anti-fungal drugs cure this problem, but you must consult a vet immediately should you notice any signs of fungal infection.

Rough Play

If your dog is very active or loves to play with other dogs roughly, then you must make sure his nails are always as short as possible. Rough play is one of the most common nail injuries in dogs.

Common Nail Injuries

Broken Nails

Broken nails are one of the most common nail injuries in dogs. While a minor crack is not all serious, a broken nail is very painful. You can treat a loose or dangling nail at home by removing it gently.

When it comes to broken nails, you can stop the bleeding by applying pressure on the area with a clean cloth for about five minutes. Ensure that your pet is calm and not resisting because the blood will not clot if he is agitated. If the bleeding persists, visit your vet as soon as possible.

Curved Nails

Anything from poor nail hygiene to genetics can contribute to curved nails. It’s usually painful for a dog to move around when its claws are curved or deformed.

You shouldn’t let your dog’s nails overgrow to the point of curving and you must make sure you cut its nails regularly with a trimmer. Also, you must feed your pet a healthy and nutritious diet.

Ingrown Nails

When a dog’s nail is ingrown, it grows into the skin next to the toenail. If your dog gives you problems when cutting its toenails, it could be a sign of ingrown nails. Age also increases the rate at which nails grow. Older dogs are more likely to suffer from ingrown nails.

Without treatment, an ingrown toenail will not disappear. If you spot redness around your dog’s toenail, or a buildup of fluid, get the toenail treated immediately. If it’s left untreated, bacteria can enter the toe, causing an infection.

As a first response, you can massage your dog’s toenail gently after soaking its feet in water for about fifteen minutes.

Contact your vet for professional advice on the ingrown nail. Your vet will recommend some cream to apply to the area and pain relievers for your dog.

Brittle Nails

Brittle nails split often and are weak and dry. Poor nutrition is the primary reason why your dog’s nails are brittle. Upgrade the type of food you feed your dog to nutritious and healthy food. If you already feed your dog a healthy diet, but it still has brittle nails, it could mean that your dog’s body cannot absorb the food nutrients properly.

Always keep your dog’s nails properly cut and trimmed to avoid weakening them. Contact your vet for vitamins or supplements to strengthen your dog’s toenails if you are sure your dog is on a nutritious diet but still has brittle nails. You can also take your dog on long walks on hard surfaces to strengthen its nails.

Bitten Nails

Dogs bite their nails just like humans. This is part of a grooming process when the nails are long and uncomfortable. Your pet could be biting its nails because of an allergic reaction or infection. It could also bite its nails because of anxiety.

If your dog is biting its nails frequently, visit your vet. The vet will examine your pet to determine the cause behind the frequent biting.

Ensuring that its nails are always clean is one sure way to prevent nail-biting. Cut your dog’s nails as often as possible and trim them to the correct size. If your pet bites its nails because of allergies, seek medical advice from your vet on the proper treatment.


A lady holding her dog
Although uncommon, paronychia is a condition where a dog’s toenail and the surrounding tissue becomes infected. A sign that your dog could have paronychia is if it’s licking its toenail too often despite your regular attempts to stop it from doing so.

Although not life-threatening, paronychia may be challenging to cure and it’s not advisable to let your dog live with it. Surgery may be required to get rid of paronychia along with medication. In the worst-case scenario, amputation may be needed.

Nail Splitting

Your dog may split its nails while running. This can also happen because of rough play or getting its toenails caught in a blanket or beddings. Splitting usually occurs when the nails are too weak. If your dog’s nails split, it might start to lick its toenails uncontrollably. In case you notice bleeding, check to see the extent of the split.

Some nail splits require you to cut the nail gently. You might need the help of a second person to hold your dog while you cut its split nails because of the pain it will feel. If your dog is in pain, he will resist and give you problems.

If you notice that the split is extensive, you must take your dog to the vet immediately because there could be infections in the blood vessels that you can’t discern without a medical examination.

The vet has the right tools for trimming dangling and split nails and he might also jab your dog with anesthetics or apply some cream to its toes.

Poor nutrition also causes splitting so you must ensure that your dog is on a nutritious diet.

Bleeding Nails

In most cases, your dog will bleed from cuts that are deep inside its toenail tissue. It is not easy to trim your pet’s nails if it’s bleeding because he will fight, resist and struggle. Bleeding nails are considered to be among the most common nail injuries in dogs.

Your first reaction to bleeding nails should be to clean and dress the wound at home. You can do this by applying a soapy solution to the injury to prevent the entry of any bacteria and then dress the wound. Normal bleeding will stop on its own, but it is best to consult your vet if the bleeding persists.

Even when the bleeding stops, pay attention to your dog’s behavior and the wound to ensure that it is not extensive. After first aid, if your dog limps or is less active, it means there could be another problem entirely.

Autoimmune Diseases

a lady holding her dogs paw
Autoimmune diseases affect the normal functioning of an immune system. Although not so common, dogs suffer from various conditions arising from autoimmune diseases that affect the normal development of the claws.

Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy is one such condition in which a dog’s nails grow abnormally. The abnormality can be seen in one nail or multiple nails and the abnormal claw could also slough or have inflammation.

A dog suffering from symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy could show signs of discomfort around the claw area and wild licking of the nails. A vet might recommend that you trim the dog’s deformed nails as treatment in some cases.

Sometimes, your dog’s nail plate will need to be removed after sedation and anesthesia. Your vet could also advise you to give your pet fatty acid supplements along with medications to alleviate the condition.

There’s also the possibility that your dog might not fully recover from this condition even after medication but still go on to live a healthy life. Nevertheless, you should always be ready to cut off the deformed parts of its nails with a trimmer.

A dog lying down

Nail injuries are often very painful for dogs. Cleanliness is the best form of remedy for most kinds of nail injuries. Your vet is in the best position to advise you concerning the type of nail injury your pet has.

It is also part of a dog’s natural growth cycle for nails to break, however, you need to keep a lookout for when it’s adverse. A healthy and nutritious diet with food rich in protein and other nutrients will ensure that your dog’s nails are healthy, just like the rest of its body.


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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.